Instant Guide

Are sexually active teens headed for divorce?

A new study warns that girls who begin having sex at an early age are twice as likely to have their marriages end after five years

Women who lost their virginity in their young teens are more likely to divorce, according to a study conducted by the University of Iowa. Thirty-one percent of women who lost their virginity by age 16 divorced within five years, and 47 percent divorced within 10 years. What's behind these "disturbing" findings? Here, a brief guide:

How did researchers find this out?
They analyzed the results of a 2002 study that polled 3,793 married and divorced women about sex, family, and marriage, according to The Daily Mail. The women were asked what age they were when they first had sex, whether the first time was "wanted or unwanted," how many partners they've had, whether they have children, and what path their marital history has taken.

And teens who had sex are more likely to get divorced?
Yes, age matters. Only 15 percent of women who waited to have sex until they were 16 or older got divorced within five years of marriage, compared to 31 percent who had sex by their 16th birthday. Clearly, having a "first sexual experience before the age of 16" is "strongly associated with divorce," says Stephanie Marcus at The Huffington Post.

Are there other factors at play?
Yes. One big factor is whether a first sexual experience was "unwanted or not completely wanted." More than two in five respondents who'd lost their virginity before age 18 said that the experience was not entirely wanted. "So it isn't exactly the age of deflowering that leads to more troubled adult relationships," says Margaret Hartmann at Jezebel, "but a woman's history of being coerced into sex or having a traumatizing experience at a young age." If you think about it, "that's not shocking at all."

Sources: Babble, Daily Mail, Huffington Post, Jezebel, StyleCaster

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